McCullers and Royals starter Jason Hammel were locked up in a pitcher's duel for seven innings. The team now has four starting pitchers on four starting pitchers on the disabled list: Dallas Keuchel (neck discomfort), Collin McHugh (posterior impingement in his right elbow), Charlie Morton (right lat strain) and Joe Musgrove (right shoulder discomfort).
The Royals didn't mind at all.
Rookie reliever Dayan Diaz, called up earlier Wednesday to provide a fresh arm for the bullpen, made his first Major League Baseball start and lasted just 2 2/3 innings while allowing three runs on four hits to take the loss. The Royals and Astros close out their 4 game series Thursday night.
Kansas City trailed 7-1 in the fourth inning but completed its comeback with a four-run eighth.
The Royals weren't quite done, this time making Michael Feliz their victim, on a Cuthbert two-out, two-run single to put the Royals up 7-2. It didn't match the shutout effort of his previous outing at Cleveland, but Vargas provided enough to keep the momentum after Tuesday's walk-off victory that ended the Astros' 11-game winning streak.
Carlos Beltran hit his 429th career home run in the Astros' four-run fourth, giving them the six-run advantage.
They also had to withstand a late Astros rally fueled by an error.
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He's been the Predators' starting goalie since the 2008-09 season and has now become their most valuable playoff performer. Anaheim went 0 for 8 in its final two losses, capping a 2-for-34 performance in the final 11 games of the postseason.
But it's different when one steps on the mound in the majors as you're going up against the best and that assertion can be made about the Royals.
Herrera's line: 0.1 IP, three hits, four earned, one walk.
Astros: RHP Joe Musgrove (shoulder discomfort) will throw a bullpen Thursday to see if he will be available Sunday to start against the Angels. Cheslor Cuthbert, Alcides Escobar and Lorenzo Cain all had their way with him, putting the Royals up 3-1 by the bottom of the 3rd and taking his fastball to task. Torres doubled down the right field line to score Escobar.
Vargas (8-3), who pitched a shutout against Cleveland in his previous start, allowed two runs on Brian McCann's home run and RBI single. Houston is near the top and that should allow Keuchel to get a few runs of support and pick up the win. He was unscathed on the scoreboard until the sixth, when he balked in Norichika Aoki with Jose Altuve at the plate.
Junis has been dominating hitters at Omaha with 57 strikeouts against just eight walks in 42 1/3 innings.
The Astros scored three runs in eighth to cut the Royals' lead to two when Jake Marisnick singled in a run and Escobar's fielding miscue with the bases loaded allowed two more runs to score.